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Coming Up Roses for Illini

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Dec 3, 2007 5:00PM

2007_11_sports_rosebowl_logo.gifChicagoist knew there'd be plenty of surprises during Sunday's college football Bowl Championship Series selections, given the losses by the two top-ranked team on Saturday and then general tumult among the top ranked teams all season long.

Among the biggest surprises was the Rose Bowl's selection of the Fighting Illini to play against the USC Trojans on New Year's Day.

The Illini did knock off Wisconsin when they were ranked fifth, and they handed Ohio State their lone defeat of the season when they were the top team in the country. But at 9-3, and ranked 13th in the final BCS rankings, the choice was not necessarily expected. But the Rose Bowl chose to stick with their traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 pairing, and the Illini received the bid ahead of some higher ranked teams.

The fact that the Illini were anywhere close to being eligible for a BCS bid is amazing. After winning just two games in each of his first two seasons in Champaign, coach Ron Zook has turned around a program not typically among the Big Ten's elite. Is the first trip to Pasadena in 26 years the beginning of a new era in Illini football?

Those looking for tickets to the Rose Bowl can check out the official site or the Illini's official site for info.

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